BioCarbon Partners (BCP) is currently piloting one of Africa’s first community-based digital biomass collection systems. The system partners smartphones running the Android operating system with a freely available open source app called the Open Data Kit (ODK). ODK is a free set of tools which allow organizations to author, field and manage data collection campaigns such as those implemented by BCP. The system represents a deviation from the standard biomass collection surveys which make use of hardcopy data collection sheets requiring post survey digitization as well as extensive data cleaning. ODK allows for the immediate capture of vital enumeration data directly onto a digital device. Once the plot level data has been captured and saved this information can be uploaded to a cloud based server (via cell networks) or downloaded to a PC for post processing and analysis. The advantage of using ODK is that it speeds up data collection, reduces error and improves data fidelity.
The significance of this pilot is that it is one of the first digital data collection systems implemented in Africa by a community-based biomass assessment team. BCP have trained a number of local community members to enumerate Miombo forest woodlands in support of quantifying carbon stocks within the Lower Zambezi REDD+ project accounting area. This biomass sampling team have recently received additional training in the use of smartphone based biomass surveys. Future REDD+ projects undertaken by BCP will make use of this exciting and innovative technology for biomass assessments as well as additional data collection activities. These activities will be documented in this blog and shared with interested parties.
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